Still image taken from Magnolia Pictures' movie "Blackfish", which explores the practices of capturing orcas and keeping them for entertainment.
Tampa, Florida - The movie trailer promises a gripping thriller and animal activists are indeed thrilled with the documentary Blackfish.
The movie tells the story of Tilikum, the killer whale that while in captivity showed aggression towards trainers and then in 2010 killed SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau.
"I'd been expecting someone to be killed by Tilikum," says one man in the movie ad. "We weren't told much about it, except that it was trainer error," adds another former trainer.
From 2010: Staff says Tilikum the whale was dangerous
But besides that horrific event, where Brancheau was dragged and drowned, the movie explores the practices of capturing orcas and keeping them for entertainment.
The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has long been critical of SeaWord and applauds the film's message.
"I think for the first time people will be learning that these are massive, intelligent animals that do not fare well in captivity," said PETA's Lindsay Rajt in a Skype interview.
Asked for comment on the film on Friday, SeaWorld issued this written statement:
"Blackfish is billed as a documentary, but instead of a fair and balanced treatment of a complex subject, the film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau's family, friends and colleagues.
"To promote its bias that killer whales should not be maintained in a zoological setting, the film paints a distorted picture that withholds from viewers key facts about SeaWorld - among them, that SeaWorld is one of the world's most respected zoological institutions, that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, and that SeaWorld commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research.
"Perhaps most important, the film fails to mention SeaWorld's commitment to the safety of its team members and guests and to the care and welfare of its animals, as demonstrated by the company's continual refinement and improvement to its killer whale facilities, equipment and procedures both before and after the death of Dawn Brancheau."
SeaWorld often touts its conservation and educational efforts, but Blackfish paints a much darker picture of this money-making business.
See full clips from Blackfish here:
For more information on PETA's views on SeaWorld click here.
Blackfish is currently playing at the Tampa Theatre.
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